Back in the day, when the world was captivated by the Wii’s revolutionary motion control system, Wii Sports took the world by storm. Essentially a tech demo, it was nonetheless an instant hit, filling living rooms everywhere with flailing family members at holiday gatherings and Sunday Dinners. Scrambling to cash in on the success of this phenomena, we were soon greeted by Motion controlled mania and it was everywhere one turned. It’s been some time since those days and most would agree the mechanics have done little to justify its existence since (a few dance games and the like notwithstanding). Enter Kinect Sports Rivals for the Xbox One, which is trying to do just that.

Release Date – April 8, 2014        

ConsoleXbox One

Genre/Rating – Motion Sports / E

Kinect Sports Rivals contains a suite of six ‘sporting’ activities designed to use the Xbox Ones Kinect system motion controls.  But has the technology advanced sufficiently to make these activities fun and enjoyable? Or is it just more of the same?

Bowling – Ah the good ole staple … most peoples favourite, at least in my experience, it’s a centerpiece of the motion sports experience.  Entertaining even in its more rudimentary days, Bowling definitely benefits from the visual upgrade Xbox One facilitates.  The same game, just presented with an updated flare, it looks good, and word is the increased sensitivity of the Kinect gives you an increased level of control in how you toss the rock

Tennis – Another popular throwback!  Like its stone rolling counterpart above, Tennis looks great. They pretty much nailed tennis in its first iteration and I think Tennis might have been responsible for more damaged TV’s, speared by controllers, than any other two sports combined. Good thing then that the Kinect system goes without.

Soccer –  More like a fancy 3D foosball than anything, Soccer will have you looking like a chorus line as you pass the ball around aiming for your opponents net. If you’ve seen a game of foosball, you can probably picture it (gets points for making your friends and family look the silliest)

Target Shooting – Point and shoot, that’s about all there is to it, hit targets, rinse repeat.

Climbing – The most unique of the lot, and at least as silly looking as kicking, it’s nonetheless a refreshing new idea in Kinect motion detection. Scanning with what appears to be great accuracy allows players to reach and pull themselves along handholds, the Kinect actually detecting grip as well, all while dodging traps, environmental conditions and competing climbers.

Wakeracing – As it sounds, blast around on a waterski in a colorful and fun aquatic playground. Like those old Arcade wake racers of old, but without the inconvenience of an enormous plastic faux water ski. Prepare to look like you’re riding an invisible bicycle, and prepare to have a good giggle too, because Wake Racing seems like a genuinely fun sort of experience.

After a trial run with each of the six sports activities, each is ‘unlocked’ and accessible thereafter. It’s a little cheeky to  force folks through what amounts to a primer game to give first timer players a taste of everything, but it can be completed quick enough, so you can get back to doing whatever the heck you’d like.

Perhaps the most interesting part of Kinect Sports Rivals isn’t even actual gameplay. In fact this game might be the most promising improvements in scanning technology since the Wii all those years ago. Employing a unique facial scanning process, the Kinect scans your face and creates a fairly accurate seeming doppelganger, albeit mildly cartoonified —it is still a video game after all.  The scan can pick up on things like glasses and hair (facial and otherwise) as well as your general shape and size.  Very neat trick that has some real application prospects going forward. If you can have a realistic sporting clone in the videogame space, why not you as the next Assassin, or as a base for whatever RPG Bethesda releases next? It’s very intriguing, and may have singlehandedly made the argument for this technology.

Kinect Sports Rivals is available now, for the Xbox One

Kurtis Diston
A firm believer in "you have to get old, but you don't have to grow up," I've been an unabashed lover of nerdy things for a good long while and don't plan to stop anytime soon. With experience on both sides of the video game, both as a consumer and a producer, and a love of the written word, I've managed to combine all three right here with the Plug-in blog